What I Learned from Wearing My Dad’s Old Denim Jacket

My Dad loves clothes, loves them. Though you’ll probably never hear him proclaim this, I’ll say it again for him: “He loves clothes.” Even as a child I remember spending Saturday mornings with him, getting haircuts then afterwards going to some department store, maybe Carson’s, Macy’s, or some store like it. I would always get excited thinking that I’d be walking out with a ton of new clothes, shoes, or whatever else I wanted. In reality, half of the time I would just follow him around the store and watch him shop. That’s not to say my Dad didn’t spoil me from time to time (because he did) but I still enjoyed these Saturday mornings even if I didn’t get anything at all. Plus, as a young child, I was more interested in video games and toys than anything else. What I was wearing was my last concern (Oh how the times have changed).

My Dad never throws anything away. I bet that he probably still has every clothing item that he has loved from the time he was in his twenties until now. You can go into any closet in our house (including my personal closet in my room) and find at least ten things that belong to my Dad. There are even large chests in our house that look decorative that actually serve to house my father’s clothing. So naturally, as I got older and was beginning to find my own sense of style, I would rummage through his old things and would “borrow” running suits, jackets, jeans, crew necks, polos, and whatever else I could squeeze into. This drove my father insane. Our house quickly turned into a battle ground over lost/forgotten clothing items. I can’t even tell you how many times that I walked out of the house, headed for school and he stopped me and asked, “Is that my shirt?” “Are those my pants?” “Where did you find that jogging suit?”

My father and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on things and, for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why it bothered him so much when I wore his old clothes. Yet, as I got older and looked back on the situation, I started to get it. These clothes held a special meaning because they had been with him all this time. These clothes had traveled with him from when he was young and lost until now, when he’s older and more mature. Out of all of the clothes that I borrowed, there’s one item that I managed to hold onto– his old denim jacket. Leaving home and moving to New York all while wearing this denim jacket has taught me a few things that I’d like to share with you:

My Dad was once young & confused, but he got through it. 
So many times I woke up and didn’t even want to get out of bed. I thought about how hard the previous day was and how much worse the next day might possibly be. I found solace in knowing that my Dad probably felt the same way when he was my age, but he was able to persevere through difficulties. Wearing his jacket reminds me that I’m standing on his shoulders as well as the shoulders of the men who came before him– the men who fought to get what they wanted out of this world. Knowing all of this allows me to get up and face each new day day with a fierce attitude and a sense of humility.

With age comes wisdom & change.
Looking at all of the clothes my Dad used to wear, it’s obvious that his style has changed. Over the seasons, over the decades, from being single, to being married, to having children, his style has evolved. I’m sure that right along with that evolution came wisdom. I don’t know too much about my Dad’s childhood or how he grew up, but I’m sure that, the experiences that he had molded him into the man he is today. I know that with change comes new beginnings, so knowing that things will in fact change, I know that each day will bring a new adventure.

My Dad is human too.
Like I said before, my Dad and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. A few times, I let my anger get the best of me during an argument with my father. I battled for a long time with forgiving him, and tried to move on by just ignoring it. Wearing this jacket helped me to realize that my Dad is human too. He has wants and needs just like me. I can imagine him walking into store, twenty or thirty years ago, seeing this denim jacket that he wanted and buying it. I can’t continue to fault him for all of the mistakes that he has made because, just like me, he fell short at times.

No matter what your circumstances are, you still have to show up and run the race.
This denim jacket has a TON of ‘character’. Both pockets on each side have holes in them, and there is a button that I constantly have to resew back on, but it sure doesn’t stop me from wearing it. Many times throughout life you hear the sob stories of why someone didn’t do something or why something wasn’t accomplished; “because of this… this… this.. this.. and this.” Truthfully, at the end of the day, none of that matters. You still have to show up and run the race. Wearing this jacket has proven to me that not everything is going to be neat, pretty, and secure. I’m going to have to learn to still run the race when things are ripped, torn, ugly and unstable. I will still have to show up even though the person next to me will be wearing a perfectly brand new jacket with no tares, no holes, no rips, and NO CHARACTER. Showing up is just half the effort, we still have to run on.

It’ll get better. 
When I look back on my childhood, I don’t remember seeing my Dad wearing this jacket that much. I remember him wearing an all black leather jacket. A really, really, really, nice jacket. Realizing that he used to wear this tattered, worn, denim jacket when he was young, and then got older and was able to buy a fairly expensive leather jacket, just shows me that things will get better. It shows me that If I can learn to appreciate what I have now, and hold out for the future, there will be better things to come.
Thanks Dad.